Take one of the most beloved skincare products (toner) and one of the buzziest skincare ingredients (glycolic acid) and you’re left with a match made in beauty heaven. Alas, as with any and all beauty products, especially when it comes to skincare formulations, not every brightening, clarifying, and pore-refining glycolic acid toner is created equally. There’s definitely a hierarchy, and we’re here to shed some light.
As a quick refresh, toners are either water- or alcohol-based solutions that can offer a wide array of benefits depending on the starring ingredients they feature. (You’ll want to find a toner that’s specifically geared toward your skin type as well!) As far as the benefits toners can offer, celebrity facialist Renée Rouleau explains that the right formulas can boost hydration (make sure you leave it on damp after cleansing), balance your skin’s pH, remove drying salts and chlorines found in tap water, enhance the results of your entire skincare regimen, and support your skin’s natural protective barrier.
Many toners on the market contain acids—BHAs like lactic and AHAs like salicylic and glycolic—which are specifically adept at exfoliating and resurfacing. As we explained here, AHAs, such as glycolic acid, are especially useful for anyone looking to boost radiance, fade dark spots, tighten the skin, and smooth fine lines. Yes, you can find glycolic acid in all types of skincare products, but it’s a prominent player in many best-selling toners, in particular. Concentrations of the acid vary depending on the brand and formula, and you’ll want to tread carefully—slower at first and then faster depending on your skin’s tolerance—but a glycolic percentage between 5% and 10% is usually optimal for best results. Below, we’ve taken the lift out of your shopping workout by rounding up 10 of the best highly rated glycolic acid toners on the market. Keep scrolling!